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Europe in Crisis: Russia vs NATO

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    These maps show how Russia has Europe spooked
    By David Filipov November 23 at 6:30 AM

    MOSCOW — The Kremlin has brushed off Western concerns about its deployment of cutting-edge missile systems in its Kaliningrad enclave, saying that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was the one disrupting the strategic balance with its plans to put antimissile defenses on Russia’s borders. But the Russian arsenal on the Baltic, some of which has been tested in Syria, is potentially a game-changer.

    Which weapons has Russia moved to Kaliningrad?

    Bastion land-based coastal-defense missile launchers: In October, Russia beefed up its anti-shipping defenses in Kaliningrad with these launchers. Since then, it has used them as an offensive weapons against rebel positions in Syria. According to IHS Jane’s 360, the supersonic missiles fired from the Bastion have a range approaching 200 miles. In a conflict, they could be used against NATO ships trying to reach the Baltic states.

    S-400 land-based air-defense missiles: Russia has already installed these state-of-the-art missile systems to protect its air base in Syria. The S-400 can simultaneously track and strike a number of aerial targets at once at ranges of up to 250 miles. In Kaliningrad, S-400s would be capable of targeting NATO aircraft and missiles over most of the Baltic region.

    Kalibr nuclear-capable ship-based cruise missiles: In October, Russia sent two missile frigates to Kaliningrad equipped with launchers that can fire these missiles more than 900 miles. A Russian missile frigate based off Syria has launched Kalibr missiles at rebel forces.

    Iskander-M mobile nuclear-capable land-based ballistic missile system: The Iskander-M is a mobile short-range ballistic missile system with an official range of just more than 300 miles. That complies with the limits set by the landmark 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union. Iskander is extremely mobile and hard to detect and has superior accuracy.

    That sounds bad. What could be worse?

    Longer-range, nuclear-capable land-based ballistic missiles: The United States accuses Russia of developing land-based ballistic missiles with a range much greater than allowed by the INF treaty — some military estimates suggest that Russia has tested a missile that could reach major European capitals. The whole point of the INF treaty was to eliminate the threat of rapid nuclear escalation posed by hidden launchers carrying devastating weapons a short flight time. But Moscow denies the allegation and says that it is the United States that is breaking the treaty with illegal intermediate missiles of its own.

    Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/11/23/these-maps-show-how-russia-has-europe-spooked/?tid=sm_fb

    The Slide Toward War With Russia
    In recent weeks, tensions have risen to a truly dangerous level. We must renew dialogue now.
    By The Nation
    October 19, 2016
    https://www.thenation.com/article/the-slide-toward-war-with-russia/

    Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with US President Barack Obama in China’s Zhejiang province, September 2016. (Alexei Druzhinin / Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

    In recent weeks, US-Russian relations have reached a perhaps fateful and exceedingly dangerous turning point, provoked by growing tensions on multiple overlapping fronts. The CIA is reportedly readying a “cyber covert action” in retaliation for Moscow’s alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee, with Vice President Joe Biden declaring that the administration will be “sending a message” to Russian President Vladimir Putin “at the time of our choosing.” The Clinton campaign has denounced Putin for “trying to put his thumb on the scale through cyber-attacks aimed at influencing the election.”

    Such a series of overt threats against Russia is almost without precedent. Ominously, many in the Russian political elite see this as a prelude to war. As Moscow’s UN ambassador observed, relations are “probably the worst since 1973.” (At the height of that year’s Arab-Israeli conflict, US military forces were placed at DEFCON 3, the second-highest level of alert.) Russia just staged a civil-defense drill involving up to 200,000 personnel and has deployed nuclear-capable missiles to its European enclave in Kaliningrad. Putin has also withdrawn from a long-
standing nuclear-security pact with the United States; in defense of the suspension, his administration pointed to a “radical change in circumstances, the emergence of a threat to strategic stability as a result of hostile actions of the United States of America.”

    The saber rattling comes amid news that the most recent round of talks to achieve a cease-fire in Syria has ended without progress, even as the war there enters a new and more dangerous phase (though it appears that the talks will continue). After the collapse of the September 9 cease-fire agreement, the carnage in eastern Aleppo escalated to horrifying levels, with Secretary of State John Kerry calling for a war-crimes investigation of the Russian and Syrian governments.

    Now the bipartisan war party in Washington sees an opening to push President Obama toward a military solution. The State Department, the CIA, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been examining military options, even as prominent figures—including, most worryingly, Hillary Clinton—have stepped up calls for the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria. The assumption seems to be that escalation would be a consequence-free choice, but nothing could be further from the truth. 
Gen. Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has warned that a no-fly zone would require hundreds of US military personnel and would cost up to $1 billion a month. Also, Russia has deployed highly sophisticated S-300 and S-400 antiaircraft systems in Syria, and its defense ministry has warned Washington against carrying out air strikes on Syrian regime forces. The unavoidable fact is that the establishment of a no-fly zone is a recipe for direct war with Russia, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the entire planet.

    Throughout the 2016 campaign, the establishment media have crafted a narrative in which one can accuse Russia of virtually anything. Accusations of Russian hacking and electoral interference are still largely unsubstantiated, but high-profile Clinton surrogates like former CIA directors Michael Morrell and David Petraeus tirelessly promote what MIT professor emeritus Theodore Postol has described as “another serious and unjustified escalation of empty but highly dangerous rhetoric from the US side against Russia.” Those who dissent from the narrative are often unfairly smeared as Trump supporters, leading to the squelching of debate.

    The Nation has long argued that “no modern precedent exists for the shameful complicity of the American political-media elite” in the rush to a new Cold War. As German Foreign Minister Frank-
Walter Steinmeier recently observed, “It is an illusion to believe this is the old Cold War. The new times are different; they are more dangerous.” For that reason, said Steinmeier, “the USA and Russia must continue talking with each other.”

    We call for an end to brinkmanship and a return to the hard but necessary work of diplomacy before it is too late. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who along with President Reagan worked to end the first Cold War, urged the two sides to “return to the main priorities, such as nuclear disarmament, fighting terrorism and prevention of global environmental disasters.” Said Gorbachev, “We need to renew dialogue.” We agree, and we urge Presidents Obama and Putin to do so at once.

    Russian warships in English Channel ‘a smokescreen? to distract world from more important military deployments’ 21.10.2016 according to the “independent”
    ‘They have achieved complete media and public focus on one bright, shiny object,’ says analyst

    The decision to sail a fleet of Russian warships through the English Channel could be a “distraction” to divert the world’s attention from military operations elsewhere, an analyst has warned.

    The passage of the Russian navy’s flagship Admiral Kuznetzov aircraft carrier and six other ships has been the subject of intense media coverage in Russia, the UK and Europe as they journey towards Syria.

    Royal Navy ships were tracking the vessels through international waters in the English Channel after they entered the narrow passage near Ramsgate on Friday morning.

    The Admiral Kuznetzov is loaded with fighter jets, reconnaissance and combat helicopters and cruise missiles to be used to bolster Russia’s bombing campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad.But Keir Giles, an expert in Russian security issues, told The Independent that bolstering the country’s firepower in the Syrian conflict was not the deployment’s only objective.

    “The biggest thing that worries me is that while there is all of this intense media focus not just in the UK but in Europe on this one action in one place, what are they [Russia] doing somewhere else?” he asked.

    “They have achieved two of their primary objectives already even without doing anything irresponsible while they are in transit to the eastern Mediterranean.

    “First, they have got the world’s attention once again on Russian military capability, which is one of the key aims in terms of deterring Western military or other action.

    “Secondly, they have achieved complete media and public opinion focus on one bright, shiny object that is being held up to potentially distract from more important things happening elsewhere.”

    Mr Giles, an associate fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, said similar techniques had been used to disguise deployments in Ukraine but that Western authorities tended to discover Russia’s intentions “a bit too late”.

    “It could be in any one of half a dozen places,” he added. “It could be in Ukraine, Syria, or anywhere else that Russia feels its interests and those and the West are in competition. And that’s a lot of places.”

    In 2014, huge media attention was directed to a “humanitarian convoy” crossing from Russia into eastern Ukraine, with news correspondents and news agencies tracking the lorries.

    But Anders Fogh Rasmussen, then the Nato Secretary-General, was among those suggesting the operation was a smokescreen for the use of Russian forces to stop a Ukrainian government offensive against separatist rebels. The Kremlin has continued to deny direct involvement in the conflict.

    Mr Giles said that if Russia’s sole aim was to transfer weapons to Syria with its latest deployment, sailing seven ships from the Arctic Circle, down the Northern Sea, through the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean and along the Mediterranean Sea would not be the most efficient method.

    The ships, including the Admiral Kuznetsov, Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) battlecruiser, the Vice Admiral Kulakov destroyer, Severomorsk destroyers and several supply vessels, had to travel in a column as part of a “traffic separation scheme” in the Dover Strait.

    “The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world so the Admiral Kuznetsov can very easily cause a problem simply by being there without necessarily doing anything hostile,” Mr Giles said.

    “There are all sorts of things they can do to cause their surroundings a headache but there’s no reason to think they would because they’re already achieved their objectives.”

    The aircraft carrier previously caused disruption in 2008, when it operated jets and aircraft near Norwegian oil platforms.

    Its latest pass through northern Europe comes after a series of military encounters between Russia forces and Nato members in the region.

    Russian planes have neared sovereign airspace, causing fighter jets to be scrambled on numerous occasions, as well as approaching foreign military and civilian aircraft in “near misses” that have caused international alarm.

    The incidents come amid increasing tensions over Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Syria, the Ukraine conflict and tit-for-tat sanctions with the EU.

    Mr Giles said the Russian government was attempting to project an image of military power and readiness to deter opponents from opposing its foreign policy.

    “It fits very neatly into the notion that a war with the West is coming and Russia is ready for it,” he added.

    “Basically they’re already in a state of conflict with the one exception that there’s no direct military clash, because that’s where it starts going wrong for Russia.”

    Theresa May condemned Mr Putin’s policy in Syria as the ships continued their journey on Friday, accusing Moscow of being behind “sickening atrocities” in support of President Assad’s regime.

    The Prime Minister called for a “robust and united European stance in the face of Russian aggression”.

    Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said naval deployment was aimed at testing British capabilities and that it would be marked by British destroyers and frigates “every inch of the way”.

    The Russian ships left the English Channel late on Friday afternoon to continue their journey south.



    FROM THE ECONOMIST: They have this unbelievable ad hominem image:
    http://cdn.static-economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/full-width/images/print-edition/20161022_LDD001_0.jpg

    The threat from Russia – How to contain Vladimir Putin’s deadly, dysfunctional empire
    published on Oct 22nd 2016 | From the print edition

    FOUR years ago Mitt Romney, then a Republican candidate, said that Russia was America’s “number-one geopolitical foe”. Barack Obama, among others, mocked this hilarious gaffe: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the cold war’s been over for 20 years,” scoffed the president. How times change. With Russia hacking the American election, presiding over mass slaughter in Syria, annexing Crimea and talking casually about using nuclear weapons, Mr Romney’s view has become conventional wisdom. Almost the only American to dissent from it is today’s Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

    Every week Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, finds new ways to scare the world. Recently he moved nuclear-capable missiles close to Poland and Lithuania. This week he sent an aircraft-carrier group down the North Sea and the English Channel. He has threatened to shoot down any American plane that attacks the forces of Syria’s despot, Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s UN envoy has said that relations with America are at their tensest in 40 years. Russian television news is full of ballistic missiles and bomb shelters. “Impudent behaviour” might have “nuclear consequences”, warns Dmitry Kiselev, Mr Putin’s propagandist-in-chief—who goes on to cite Mr Putin’s words that “If a fight is inevitable, you have to strike first.”

    In fact, Russia is not about to go to war with America. Much of its language is no more than bluster. But it does pose a threat to stability and order. And the first step to answering that threat is to understand that Russian belligerence is not a sign of resurgence, but of a chronic, debilitating weakness.

    Vlad the invader

    As our special report this week sets out, Russia confronts grave problems in its economy, politics and society. Its population is ageing and is expected to shrink by 10% by 2050. An attempt to use the windfall from the commodity boom to modernise the state and its economy fell flat. Instead Mr Putin has presided over a huge increase in government: between 2005 and 2015, the share of Russian GDP that comes from public spending and state-controlled firms rose from 35% to 70%. Having grown by 7% a year at the start of Mr Putin’s reign, the economy is now shrinking. Sanctions are partly to blame, but corruption and a fall in the price of oil matter more. The Kremlin decides who gets rich and stays that way. Vladimir Yevtushenkov, a Russian tycoon, was detained for three months in 2014. When he emerged, he had surrendered his oil company.

    Mr Putin has sought to offset vulnerability at home with aggression abroad. With their mass protests after election-rigging in 2011-12, Russia’s sophisticated urban middle classes showed that they yearn for a modern state. When the oil price was high, Mr Putin could resist them by buying support. Now he shores up his power by waging foreign wars and using his propaganda tools to whip up nationalism. He is wary of giving any ground to Western ideas because Russia’s political system, though adept at repression, is brittle. Institutions that would underpin a prosperous Russia, such as the rule of law, free media, democracy and open competition, pose an existential threat to Mr Putin’s rotten state.

    For much of his time in office Mr Obama has assumed that, because Russia is a declining power, he need not pay it much heed. Yet a weak, insecure, unpredictable country with nuclear weapons is dangerous—more so, in some ways, even than the Soviet Union was. Unlike Soviet leaders after Stalin, Mr Putin rules alone, unchecked by a Politburo or by having witnessed the second world war’s devastation. He could remain in charge for years to come. Age is unlikely to mellow him.

    Mr Obama increasingly says the right things about Putinism—he sounded reasonably tough during a press conference this week—but Mr Putin has learned that he can defy America and come out on top. Mild Western sanctions make ordinary Russians worse off, but they also give the people an enemy to unite against, and Mr Putin something to blame for the economic damage caused by his own policies.

    Ivan the bearable

    What should the West do? Time is on its side. A declining power needs containing until it is eventually overrun by its own contradictions—even as the urge to lash out remains.

    Because the danger is of miscalculation and unchecked escalation, America must continue to engage in direct talks with Mr Putin even, as today, when the experience is dispiriting. Success is not measured by breakthroughs and ceasefires—welcome as those would be in a country as benighted as Syria—but by lowering the chances of a Russian blunder.

    Nuclear miscalculation would be the worst kind of all. Hence the talks need to include nuclear-arms control as well as improved military-to-military relations, in the hope that nuclear weapons can be kept separate from other issues, as they were in Soviet times. That will be hard because, as Russia declines, it will see its nuclear arsenal as an enduring advantage.

    Another area of dispute will be Russia’s near abroad. Ukraine shows how Mr Putin seeks to destabilise countries as a way to stop them drifting out of Russia’s orbit (see article). America’s next president must declare that, contrary to what Mr Trump has said, if Russia uses such tactics against a NATO member, such as Latvia or Estonia, the alliance will treat it as an attack on them all. Separately the West needs to make it clear that, if Russia engages in large-scale aggression against non-NATO allies, such as Georgia and Ukraine, it reserves the right to arm them.

    Above all the West needs to keep its head. Russian interference in America’s presidential election merits measured retaliation. But the West can withstand such “active measures”. Russia does not pretend to offer the world an attractive ideology or vision. Instead its propaganda aims to discredit and erode universal liberal values by nurturing the idea that the West is just as corrupt as Russia, and that its political system is just as rigged. It wants to create a divided West that has lost faith in its ability to shape the world. In response, the West should be united and firm.

    This article appeared in the Print Edition with the headline: Putinism
    SOURCE: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21709028-how-contain-vladimir-putins-deadly-dysfunctional-empire-threat-russia?fsrc=scn/fb/te/pe/ed/thethreatfromrussia
    From the print edition: Leaders
    Downloaded 21.10.2016


    LISTEN:

    Race to nuclear confrontation: 17.10.2016

    This has to stop:
    https://soundcloud.com/radiosputnik/us-confrontation-with-russia-increases-the-risk-of-war-between-moscow-and-nato-jan-oberg



    READ:

    Obama administration considering strikes on Assad, again
    By Josh Rogin

    U.S. military strikes against the Assad regime will be back on the table Wednesday at the White House, when top national security officials in the Obama administration are set to discuss options for the way forward in Syria. But there’s little prospect President Obama will ultimately approve them.

    Inside the national security agencies, meetings have been going on for weeks to consider new options to recommend to the president to address the ongoing crisis in Aleppo, where Syrian and Russian aircraft continue to perpetrate the deadliest bombing campaign the city has seen since the five-year-old civil war began. A meeting of the Principals Committee, which includes Cabinet-level officials, is scheduled for Wednesday. A meeting of the National Security Council, which could include the president, could come as early as this weekend.

    Last Wednesday, at a Deputies Committee meeting at the White House, officials from the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed limited military strikes against the regime as a means of forcing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to pay a cost for his violations of the cease-fire, disrupt his ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo, and raise the pressure on the regime to come back to the negotiating table in a serious way.

    The options under consideration, which remain classified, include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships, an administration official who is part of the discussions told me. One proposed way to get around the White House’s long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said.

    The CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represented in the Deputies Committee meeting by Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva, expressed support for such “kinetic” options, the official said. That marked an increase of support for striking Assad compared with the last time such options were considered.

    “There’s an increased mood in support of kinetic actions against the regime,” one senior administration official said. “The CIA and the Joint Staff have said that the fall of Aleppo would undermine America’s counterterrorism goals in Syria.”

    There’s still great skepticism, however, that the White House will approve military action. Other administration officials told The Post this week that Obama is no more willing to commit U.S. military force inside Syria than he was previously and that each of the military options being discussed have negative risks or consequences.

    The State Department announced Monday that it was suspending bilateral channels of communication with Russia related to the failed cease-fire deal struck last month. The United States will now bring back all of the personnel from Geneva who have been waiting for weeks to begin a new project of military and intelligence cooperation with the Russians that was to accompany the cease-fire if it had held.

    Two administration officials told me that the suspension was set to be announced last Friday, but Secretary of State John F. Kerry asked for a delay after speaking on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Kerry wanted more time to work out an extension of the cease-fire but failed, leaving the administration without a clear path forward.

    Last week, Kerry was caught on tape telling a group of Syrian activists that he had argued for military strikes against the regime but that he “lost the argument.” Kerry had supported limited strikes against the regime in 2013 as punishment for Assad using chemical weapons against his own people. But while Congress was deliberating an authorization, the president withdrew his request and decided to strike a deal with Moscow instead.

    This time around, Kerry has not favored using U.S. military force against the Assad regime, two administration officials said. He now prefers continued diplomacy with Russia, even in the face of what he says is Moscow’s willingness to “turn a blind eye” to, if not participate directly, in war crimes in Aleppo.

    Kerry does support increasing pressure on the Assad regime, officials said.

    The National Security Council’s senior coordinator for the Middle East, Rob Malley, and the president’s special envoy to the coalition for the fight against the Islamic State, Brett McGurk, are also said to be against any military escalation against the Assad regime, officials said. There’s no consensus on what options should be sent to the president’s desk. Other options include increased weapons for some Syrian rebel groups and an increase in the quality of such weapons, to allow rebels to defend Aleppo’s civilians.

    If Obama does not approve greater support for the Syrian rebels or increased coalition pressure on the Assad regime, the only option left is to wait out the siege of Aleppo and reengage the Russians if and when Aleppo falls, albeit in a weaker position.

    Former State Department Syria official Frederic Hof wrote Monday that any policy going forward that hinges on the assumption that Russia is looking for a near-term diplomatic solution in Syria is destined for failure.

    “Whatever excuses the administration offers for leaving Syrians defenseless against mass murder, the continued search for common ground with Vladimir Putin should not be one of them,” he wrote. “If nothing else, John Kerry’s exhaustive diplomatic due diligence should retire that illusion permanently.”

    Kerry’s deputy, Antony Blinken, testified last week that the U.S. leverage in Russia comes from the notion that Russia will eventually become weary of the cost of its military intervention in Syria. “The leverage is the consequences for Russia of being stuck in a quagmire that is going to have a number of profoundly negative effects,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    The argument against more U.S. military intervention in Syria, including strikes against the regime, is based on risks that should be taken seriously but that are ultimately hypothetical. The effects of continuing the current policy are not hypothetical. They include more of what we are seeing now: Russia and the Assad regime committing war crimes against civilians with impunity and destroying Syria’s largest city.

    Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2016/10/04/obama-administration-considering-strikes-on-assad-again/?utm_term=.b53a885c2149



    READ

    The Unlikely Origins of Russia’s Manifest Destiny

    How an obscure academic and a marginalized philosopher captured the minds of the Kremlin and helped forge the new Russian nationalism.

    By Charles Clover
    July 27, 2016

    It would be extremely unpleasant for Sir Halford Mackinder, a bespectacled and slightly aloof Edwardian academic, to witness the use to which his life’s work has been put in post-communist Russia.

    Best-known for a lecture entitled “The Geographical Pivot of History,” which he delivered to the Royal Geographical Society in 1904, Mackinder argued that Russia, not Germany, was Britain’s main strategic opponent. This he illustrated with a colorful theory that came to be known as “geopolitics.” The timing of his prediction, prior to two world wars against Germany, subsequently did not do his theory any favors. However, Mackinder was finally vindicated in the last year of his life by the start of the Cold War, the epitome of his teachings. He saw the world arrayed in pretty much the shape he had foreseen in 1904: Britain and America, whose navies ruled the world’s oceans, against the Soviet Union, the world’s predominant land power, whose vast steppe and harsh winters had defeated Napoleon and Hitler — all but impregnable behind a land fortress, the “Heartland” of Eurasia.

    Despite the centuries of technological progress and human enlightenment, Mackinder believed that geography remained the fundamental constituent of world order, just as it had been during the Peloponnesian War, in which sea power Athens faced off against Greece’s greatest land army Sparta. Since then, geopoliticians have argued, most armed conflicts have always featured a stronger navy against a stronger army. Sea power and land power, in other words, are fated to clash. The global seat of land power — inner Eurasia, the territory of the Russian Empire — would forever be in global competition with the sea power, the mantle of which was soon to be transferred from Britain to the United States.

    In 1919, Mackinder still clung to the notion that Russia was Britain’s main adversary: he advocated “a complete territorial buffer between Russia and Germany.” Mackinder justified the move with the most famous sentences he ever penned: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World.”

    It took about 50 years for those words to get noticed in the heartland itself; but when they were, Mackinder was suddenly plucked from obscurity to fame and given the status of prophet — for all the wrong reasons. His dire warnings, issued about the latent potential of Russia for conquest and domination, were intended to coax a consensus among the interwar-era European elite to prevent this from happening; instead they became the lightning rod for a new Russian version of “Manifest Destiny.”

    Russia’s push into Georgia in 2008, into Ukraine in 2014, and its recent campaign in Syria, as well as its efforts to consolidate a sphere of influence in the inner Eurasian heartland of the former USSR called the Eurasian Union, all are eerily foretold in geopolitical theory. Mackinder held that geography, not economics, is the fundamental determinant of world power and Russia, simply by virtue of its physical location, inherits a primary global role. Under President Vladimir Putin, the slightly kooky tenets of Mackinder’s theory have made inroads into the establishment, mostly because of one man, Alexander Dugin, a right wing intellectual and bohemian who emerged from the Perestroika era in the the 1980s as one of Russia’s chief nationalists.

    Largely thanks to Dugin’s murky connections within the elite, Geopolitics today is mainstream. Mackinder’s arguments were useful to Dugin and other hardliners who contended that conflict with the West was a permanent condition for Russia, though they had trouble explaining why. The reasons for the Cold War had seemingly evaporated with the end of ideological confrontation, in a new era of universal tolerance, democracy, and the “end of history.”

    The Englishman’s elevation to the status of grand mufti of Atlantic power was assisted by Dugin, who in 1997 published The Foundations of Geopolitics, one of the most curious, impressive, and terrifying books to come out of Russia during the entire post-Soviet era, and one that became a pole star for a broad section of Russian hardliners. The book grew out of Dugin’s hobnobbing with New Right thinkers and his fortnightly lectures at the General Staff Academy under the auspices of General Igor Rodionov, the hardliner’s hardliner who would serve as defense minister from 1996 to 1997. By 1993, according to Dugin, the notes from his lectures had been compiled as a set of materials, which all entrants to the Academy were supposed to use, and which were frequently amended and annotated by new insights from the generals, or following the odd lecture by a right-wing ideologue flown in from Paris or Milan.

    Dugin thus set out self-consciously to write a how-to manual for conquest and political rule in the manner of Niccolò Machiavelli. Like The Prince (which was essentially a fawning job application written to Florentine ruler Lorenzo de’ Medici after Machiavelli had been out of power and exiled for ten years), Dugin wrote his book as an ode to Russia’s national security nomenklatura from the depths of his post-1993 wilderness. Until 1991 he had been one of the hardliners’ chief propagandists, writing a combination of conspiracy theories and nationalist demagoguery for The Day, a newspaper funded by the defense ministry. But following the failed coup by the KGB and the Red Army in August of that year, Dugin had been in internal exile with little way to support himself.

    Together with fellow nationalist intellectual Eduard Limonov he had founded a cantankerous political movement called the National Bolshevik Party (NBP), which he called a “political art project” and in addition he rather improbably landed a visiting lectureship at the Academy of the General Staff as a result of connections to the hardliners and to Rodionov. Drawing on his connections with military academics and sitting in the dirty basement of the NBP’s Frunzenskaya Street headquarters, Dugin wrote a book that would become a major influence on Russia’s hardliners.

    In Dugin’s capable hands, Mackinder was transformed from an obscure Edwardian curiosity who never got tenure at Oxford, into a sort of Cardinal Richelieu of Whitehall, whose whispered counsels to the great men of state provided a sure hand on the tiller of British strategic thinking for half a century, and whose ideas continue to be the strategic imperatives for a new generation of secret mandarins.

    In addition to Mackinder, there were the opposing geopoliticians profiled by Dugin, mostly German, who argued from the same logic as Mackinder but in defense of continental land power rather than global sea power. These included Friedrich Ratzel, a late nineteenth-century German geographer who coined the term Lebensraum, or “living space,” which later was co-opted as an imperative by the Third Reich. The second generation of geopolitical writings earned the theory a lingering association with Nazism. Mackinder’s contemporary, Karl Haushofer, was a German army general and strategic theorist who was a strong proponent of a three-way alliance between Berlin, Moscow, and Tokyo.

    Mainstream political scientists look slightly askance at the subset of geopolitics. They regard geopoliticians much as mainstream economists regard the so-called “gold bugs,” who persist in believing in the eternal value of gold as a medium of exchange and who place their faith in the old constants which they are sure will inevitably reappear. Similarly, the geopoliticans, an exotic subculture within the expert community, believe that despite lofty principles and progress, the mean — strategic conflict over land — will always prevail. Sometimes, they are right.

    The Foundations of Geopolitics sold out in four editions, and continues to be assigned as a textbook at the General Staff Academy and other military universities in Russia. “There has probably not been another book published in Russia during the post-communist period which has exerted a comparable influence on Russian military, police, and statist foreign policy elites,” writes historian John Dunlop, a Hoover Institution specialist on the Russian right.

    In 1996, Andrey Kozyrev, the Russian foreign minister who was a symbol of the westernizing strain in Yeltsin’s policies, was sacked, and the same year, General Rodionov, Dugin’s patron at the General Staff Academy, was appointed defense minister, replacing Pavel Grachev, who, as head of the airborne forces, had sided with Yeltsin in the August 1991 attempted coup. Also in 1996, the Duma voted to abrogate the decision of the Belovezh Agreement of 1991, which declared the Soviet Union officially dissolved, and simultaneously to recognize as legally binding the results of the 1991 referendum, in which 70 per cent of Russian voters supported the preservation of the USSR. It was obviously only symbolic, but a mere five years after the end of the USSR, a majority of the Russian elite — if one accepts the overwhelming Duma vote as an adequate bellwether — supported the restoration of empire.

    Foundations arrived at just the moment when Russia’s elite was undergoing a seismic shift, though it would not be until the collapse of the ruble in August 1998 that liberalism in Russia was finally dealt a deathblow. Foundations was helped by curiously ubiquitous product placement in Moscow’s best bookstores — almost invariably next to the cash register.

    Dugin’s main argument in Foundations came straight from Haushofer’s pages: the need to thwart the conspiracy of “Atlanticism” led by the United States and NATO and aimed at containing Russia within successive geographic rings of newly independent states. The plan was simple: first put the Soviet Union back together, counseled Dugin, and then use clever alliance diplomacy focused on partnerships with Japan, Iran, and Germany to eject the United States and its Atlanticist minions from the continent.

    The key to creating “Eurasia” is to reject a narrow nationalistic agenda, which could alienate potential allies. He quoted New Right theorist Jean-François Thiriart, who said “the main mistake of Hitler was that he tried to make Europe German. Instead, he should have tried to make it European.” Russia, it followed, would not be making a Russian Empire, but a Eurasian one. “The Eurasian Empire will be constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, the strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us,” wrote Dugin.

    It did not seem to matter that around 1997 this idea seemed completely insane. Russia’s GDP was smaller than that of the Netherlands, and the once formidable Red Army had just been defeated on the battlefield and forced into a humiliating peace by a rag-tag group of Chechen insurgents. It was a period of Russian history when analogies to Weimar Germany were plentiful, and Dugin’s book was evidence that the same dark forces that had been radicalized by Germany’s interwar collapse seemed to be in the ascendant in Russia. It preached that the country’s humiliation was the result of foreign conspiracies. The dust jacket was emblazoned with a swastika-like runic symbol known in occult circles as the “star of chaos,” and the book itself favorably profiled several Nazis and extreme rightists. If the parallels with the Third Reich were not already plentiful enough, it called for the formation of a geopolitical “axis” which would include Germany and Japan.

    Foundations was premised on the notion that real politics took place behind a veil of intrigue, according to rules that the elites and regimes of the world had internalized for centuries behind their bastions of privilege, but were loath to demonstrate publicly. The idea was an easy sell to a conspiracy-mad reading public and the book came outfitted with all the esoteric trappings of an initiation to secret wisdom: runic inscriptions, arcane maps with all manner of arrows and cross-hatching, introductions to unheard-of grey cardinals of world diplomacy. But there were just enough actual facts in support of the fantastic conclusions for the reader to be instantly intrigued — just as players at a Ouija board are often most impressed when the planchette lands on some fact of which they are already aware.

    The reason that geopolitics is so obscure, it turns out, is not because its practitioners are crazy, hopelessly abstruse, or were prosecuted at the Nuremburg trials; but rather, because of a clever cover-up by the powers-that-be. Or, as Dugin puts it, “because geopolitics too openly demonstrates the fundamental mechanism of international politics, which various regimes more often than not would prefer to hide behind foggy rhetoric and abstract ideological schemes.”

    Foundations was more sober than Dugin’s previous books, better argued, and shorn of occult references, numerology, traditionalism and other eccentric metaphysics. In fact, it is quite possible that he had significant help from high- level people at the General Staff Academy, where he still lectured. Dugin did not try to hide his connection to the army: on the first page he credited General Nikolai Klokotov, his main collaborator at the Academy of the General Staff, with being his co-author and major inspiration (though Klokotov insists he was not). But the clever association with the military gave Dugin’s work some authority and a veneer of official respectability, as well as the pervasive notion that he was the front man for some putative Russian “deep state” conspiracy of hardliners, straight off the pages of one of his pamphlets. And it is not impossible that this was actually the case.

    Dugin clearly longed to walk the corridors of power, and did his best to make his case to those who abided there. Only those who understood the imperatives of geography and power, he wrote, could be considered qualified to hold the tiller of state: “The dependence of the human being on geography is only apparent the closer one gets to the summit of power. Geopolitics is a worldview of power, a science of power, for power.”

    Of course, it went without saying in Dugin’s view that the USSR must be put back together; Georgia must be dismembered and Ukraine annexed: “Ukraine, as an independent state with certain territorial ambitions, represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia.” Azerbaijan, though, could be given away to Iran in exchange for a “Moscow–Tehran axis.” Finland could be added to the Russian province of Murmansk, while Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece would join Russia as an Orthodox “Third Rome” or Russian South.

    The other thing the book gives short shrift to, despite Dugin’s erudite style and exhaustive presentation, was exactly why Russia needed an empire. Russian thinkers, from Alexander Herzen to Andrey Sakharov, have been adamant that the empire is the primary culprit for Russia’s eternal backwardness. Few would say that modern-day Russia’s dysfunction and lack of status and influence commensurate with its ambitions on the global stage are due to any deficiency in size — it is, after all, still geographically the largest country in the world, despite losing 14 post-Soviet territories. Additionally, Russia’s land-based civilization was not just a strategic opponent of sea-based powers, but culturally and civilizationally anomalous, inherently more hierarchical and authoritarian than the more mercantile and democratic Atlantic world. Dugin argued that empire was the only way to stop the march of liberalism, which was antithetical to Russia’s value system.

    The influence of Foundations was profound if measured by book sales; but even more profound if measured by the true yardstick of the scribbler: plagiarism. Dugin’s ideas became a “virus,” as he put it. They were reprinted in dozens of similar manuals and textbooks, all of which devoted themselves to the theories of Mackinder, Haushofer, and others. Bookstores in Russia began to have a “Geopolitics” section; the Duma formed a “Geopolitics” committee stacked with deputies from arch-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s so-called Liberal Democratic Party. Boris Berezovsky, influential oligarch and behind-the-scenes power broker, ended an appearance on the Hero of the Day television chat show in 1998 with the statement “I just want to say one more thing: geopolitics is the destiny of Russia.”

    Geopolitics was like “open source computer software,” as Dugin put it. He wrote the program, and everyone copied it.

    This article is adapted from Charles Clover’s new book, Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism.

    Source: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/07/27/geopolitics-russia-mackinder-eurasia-heartland-dugin-ukraine-eurasianism-manifest-destiny-putin/?utm_content=bufferaf5a5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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    #6305

    Gorbachev calls for peace: Is there a path forward?

    October 12, 2016

    Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, called for peace and a de-escalation in tensions between the US and Russia. What is the future for dialogue between the two countries under current circumstances?

    By Ellen Powell, Staff October 12, 2016

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2016/1012/Gorbachev-calls-for-peace-Is-there-a-path-forward

    It’s been 30 years since Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan met in Reykjavik to agree on a nuclear drawdown, an event that helped bring about the end of the Cold War. Given the current conflict between Russia and the United States, the lessons of the past seem as relevant as ever, Mr. Gorbachev suggested in a recent speech.

    Addressing participants in the international conference marking the 1986 US-Soviet Summit, the former Soviet premier expressed his concern about the current state of US-Russian relations, which he blamed on a “collapse of mutual trust.” He cautioned against the use of force, in particular nuclear force, saying that military methods had not helped to resolve conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Syria or the former Yugoslavia. Instead, he called for a resumption of dialogue between Russia and the United States, which he says has been lacking over the past two years.

    Both sides have incentives to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Syrian conflict. Gorbachev’s comments imply that a cooperation that goes deeper than crisis response could help make these solutions a reality, by starting to address the often-cited “trust deficit” between the two countries. Citizen groups from the US and Russia have proposed a similar approach.
    Recommended: Sochi, Soviets, and czars: How much do you know about Russia?

    “We need to renew dialogue. Stopping it was the biggest mistake. Now we must return to the main priorities, such as nuclear disarmament, fighting terrorism and prevention of global environmental disasters,” Gorbachev said, calling for a discussion of the range of challenges that Russia and the US face. By working together on these issues, the countries’ leaders may be able to create the expectation of cooperation – and solutions – when they face crises, he implied.
    Test your knowledge Sochi, Soviets, and czars: How much do you know about Russia?
    Photos of the Day Photos of the day 10/13

    Relations have been difficult lately for all kinds of reasons. Most recently, the US accused Russia of interfering in the US elections, and called for Russia to be investigated for war crimes over the assault on Aleppo.

    But the two powers are essentially locked into cooperation in Syria because of their military involvement, Frederic Hof, director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East in Washington, told The Christian Science Monitor in September. The two have “lethal and very high speed aircraft operating in constricted air space,” so they have to work together, he explained.

    Another incentive for cooperation: the humanitarian crisis. “There’s such a huge moral and strategic imperative to address the humanitarian challenge,” Melissa Dalton, who served as the Pentagon’s country director for Syria in 2012 and is now chief of staff for the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told the Monitor last month. Russia is also increasingly concerned about the spread of extremism in the Caucasus and Europe, which may spur joint effort to address the challenges, she added.

    Gorbachev’s remarks indicate that dialogue – and not just incentives – is critical to achieving workable solutions. That’s a point brought out by participants in the Dartmouth Conference, a roundtable discussion that brings together Russian and American “citizen diplomats” in search of foreign policy solutions. The Christian Science Monitor’s Linda Feldmann summarized one major conclusion:

    US-Russian relations would benefit from a revival of routine topic-specific dialogue under the Bilateral Presidential Commission, without which “loudspeaker diplomacy prevails.”

    Bilateral interest in diplomacy may not exist, however, says Matthew Evangelista, a professor of history and political science at Cornell University, and director of the university’s Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. That sets the current situation apart from the last years of the Cold War, when Soviet leadership actively sought to improve relations with Europe and the US, he writes in an email to the Monitor.

    “Vladimir Putin is pursuing a different course, and seems to favor maintaining a certain level of tension,” he explains. As such, while the United States should certainly work with Russia, Professor Evangelista is uncertain of “Putin’s willingness to pursue mutually beneficial solutions.”

    Ivan Kurilla, a professor at the European University at St. Petersburg, in Russia, who focuses on the history of Russian-American relations, tells the Monitor he is most concerned by the rhetoric he hears from politicians from both countries. The context of the US election has led American politicians and journalists to inflate “Putin’s bullying,” as he puts it, to the level of a Cold War threat.

    Professor Kurilla points out that a similar dynamic existed between the US and Russia during the 2008 US election campaign, soon after the Russia-Georgia war. Bilateral relations were almost frozen, but when Obama took office, he and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced a “reset.”

    “I cannot hope for [a] real ‘reset'” now,” Kurilla concludes, “but I do hope that the dangerous ‘Cold War style’ rhetoric will give place to realistic exchanges.”

    US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet Saturday in Lausanne, Switzerland to discuss next steps toward peace in Syria.

    #6306

    The Reykjavik Summit October 11th 1986 – the talk that ended the Cold War

    On October 11, 1986, halfway between Moscow and Washington, D.C., the leaders of the world’s two superpowers met at the stark and picturesque Hofdi House in Reykjavik, Iceland. Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev had proposed the meeting to President Ronald Reagan less than thirty days before. The expectations for the summit at Reykjavik were low.

    Reagan and Gorbachev had established a personal relationship just one year before at their Geneva Summit. In Geneva they attempted to reach agreement on bilateral nuclear arms reductions. Since then, their negotiators had reached an impasse. Both leaders hoped a face to face meeting at Reykjavik might revive the negotiations.

    The talks between Reagan and Gorbachev at Reykjavik proceeded at a breakneck pace. Gorbachev agreed that human rights issues were a legitimate topic of discussion, something no previous Soviet leader had ever agreed to. A proposal to eliminate all new strategic missiles grew into a discussion, for the first time in history, of the real possibility of eliminating nuclear weapons forever.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-wXxHklDTc

    Aides to both leaders were shocked by the pace of the discussions. A summit that began with low expectations had blossomed into one of the most dramatic and potentially productive summits of all time. At one point Reagan even described to Gorbachev how both men might return to Reykjavik in ten years, aged and retired leaders, to personally witness the dismantling of the world’s last remaining nuclear warhead.

    But one point of contention remained. Reagan was committed to see his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) to completion. Gorbachev, fearing an imbalance of power, was equally determined to make sure SDI would never be implemented. Reagan offered assurances to Gorbachev that the missile defense shield, which he had championed and funded despite widespread criticism at home, was being developed not to gain an advantage, but to offer safety against accidents or outlaw nations. Reagan offered many times to share this technology with the Soviets, which Gorbachev refused to believe.

    Toward the end of the long and stressful final negotiations Gorbachev would accept continued development of SDI as long as testing was confined to the laboratory for the next ten years. Reagan would not agree. He could not and would not allow the division of his two-part strategy of the simultaneous elimination of nuclear weapons with the creation of a missile defense shield.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBxzrDgU0zE

    After the negotiations broke down without a final agreement, Reagan wrote that he left the meeting knowing how close they had come to achieving his long goal of eliminating the threat of nuclear destruction, and that this was the angriest moment of his career.

    Despite failing to achieve either man’s ultimate goal, Reykjavik will be recorded as one of the most important summits in history. A year after Reykjavik the U.S. and Soviet Union signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), for the first time eliminating an entire class of nuclear weapons. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was signed a few years later during President H.W Bush’s term.

    None of this progress would have been possible without the courage of two leaders to look beyond past hostilities and forge a new and lasting relationship, that would soon provide greater security for people around the world.

    the source: http://www.thereaganvision.org/the-reykjavik-summit-the-story/

    #6307

    Why Putin Is Escalating Russia’s Military Buildup
    09/02/2016 01:40 pm ET | Updated Sep 02, 2016
    Samuel Ramani DPhil Candidate, University of Oxford
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/samuel-ramani/why-putin-is-escalating-r_b_11781280.html

    On May 4, 2016, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu announced that Russia planned to form 3 new military divisions to counter NATO’s growing military presence in Eastern Europe. These new military divisions will consist of 10,000 troops deployed on Russia’s southern and western frontiers. In addition, Shoygu pledged to improve military training for Russian troops and upgrade Russia’s military hardware production to combat the “NATO threat.”

    Moscow’s military buildup has increased fears of an imminent Crimea-style Russian military intervention in the Baltic States. These concerns are likely misplaced, however. Even though Putin’s military modernization efforts after the 2008 Georgian War laid the groundwork for the 2014 annexation of Crimea, there is evidence that Russia’s latest military buildup is primarily for domestic consumption.

    By demonstrating Russia’s ability to project military power on the world stage, Russian President Vladimir Putin has rallied nationalist sentiments around his government. Kremlin policymakers have also successfully framed Russia’s military buildup as a defensive reaction to NATO and Ukrainian aggression. Putin’s creation of a perpetual external enemy construct has allowed him to maintain consistently high approval ratings during a period of economic recession.

    How the Kremlin’s Military Buildup Appeals to Russian Nationalists

    Since the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict and the imposition of sweeping sanctions against Russia, Kremlin policymakers have used Russia’s growing military power to rally pro-government nationalism. Immediately after the US and EU banned arms sales to Russia, the Russian government expedited its military modernization efforts. Putin hoped that showcasing Russia’s military strength would rally economic nationalist sentiments around his rule.

    As Eugene Rumer and Rajan Menon note in their 2015 book Conflict in Ukraine, Putin’s focus on creating economic nationalism has encouraged the Russian military to produce arms domestically without regard for cost. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin claimed that Russia’s defense industry has been strengthened by protectionist policies that were adopted in response to Western sanctions. In 2014, Putin asked the Russian military to domestically manufacture 90 of Russia’s 200 most frequently imported weapons systems by 2020 and to transition towards complete self-sufficiency as soon as possible.

    Putin’s ability to foment pro-government nationalism has been strengthened by increased international recognition of the Russian military’s global power projection capacity. The Russian state media prominently featured US President Barack Obama’s February 2016 description of the Russian military as the “second-most powerful military” in the world.

    Obama’s statement contrasted markedly with his 2014 description of Russia as a regional power that invaded Crimea out of weakness. Russian elites have used Obama’s striking change of opinion as proof that Moscow’s military interventions in Ukraine and Syria have boosted Russia’s international status.

    To bolster perceptions of Russia as a great power, Putin has made a concerted effort to expand the Russian military’s global reach. The globalization of Russia’s military capabilities has allowed Moscow to expand its military presence in areas outside its sphere of influence, like Latin America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

    As Russia-West relations have become increasingly strained, the Russian Defense Ministry has held diplomatic negotiations with countries like Venezuela, Algeria, Vietnam, Singapore and Seychelles to gain access to their port facilities. The creation of a globalized Russian military combined with Moscow’s extra-regional power projection in Syria has increased public perceptions of Russia as a great power and rallied Russian nationalists around Putin’s government.

    How Putin has Framed Russia’s Military Buildup in Defensive Terms

    Even though NATO policymakers view Russia’s military buildup as aggressive posturing, Kremlin policymakers have insisted that Russia has expanded its military capabilities for defensive purposes. By depicting Russian international conduct as defensive, Putin has been able to rally nationalism around popular opposition to two external actors: NATO and Ukraine.

    US policymakers have insisted that NATO’s expanded presence on Russia’s borders makes Eastern European countries more secure from Russian aggression. Russian policymakers have shunned this logic. Kremlin officials believe that NATO’s growing presence is proof of Washington’s covert attempts to undermine Russia’s international influence. This position has been advanced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who alleged in November 2015 that NATO invented Russia as an enemy to remain relevant after its failed mission in Afghanistan.

    Putin has also repeatedly emphasized that NATO deployments in Eastern Europe are a threat to Russia’s national security. To demonstrate that Russia is merely responding to NATO “aggression,” Putin claimed on July 1, that NATO flies planes without transponders over the Baltic States twice as often as Russia does. The Russian Defense Ministry has claimed that NATO has doubled its military presence on Russia’s borders and has used NATO’s escalation as a justification for its military buildup.

    The Russian government’s strident anti-NATO rhetoric has rallied anti-Western nationalists around Putin’s rule. Kremlin policymakers have used multilateralism to demonstrate the growth of Russia’s international status to nationalist constituencies. The increased frequency of CSTO bloc anti-NATO drills, demonstrate to the public that Russia’s leading role in combatting the “NATO threat” is expanding Moscow’s influence.

    Russia’s recent military buildup on the Crimea-Ukraine border has fomented anti-Ukrainian nationalism. Kremlin policymakers have become increasingly vocal about the threat posed by the Ukrainian government to Russian and European security. On August 19, Putin declared that the Ukrainian government was sponsoring anti-Russian terrorism and had rebuffed diplomatic negotiations with Moscow. Russian officials have also insisted that the Ukrainian government’s refusal to hold free elections in Donbas is a violation of the Minsk Accords.

    Putin’s incendiary rhetoric towards Ukraine is closely linked to his desire to rally pro-government nationalism ahead of the September 2016 Russian legislative elections. Russia’s mobilization of 40,000 troops on the Crimea-Ukraine border has rallied nationalist sentiments around Putin’s rule.

    Putin’s defensive posturing is aimed at reframing Europe’s perceptions of the Ukraine conflict. Putin has attempted to prove that the Ukrainian government is stoking the Crimea crisis and that Russia is not a unilateral aggressor in Ukraine. If Putin is able to make a convincing Ukrainian culpability case to Western policymakers, EU sanctions against Russia could be lifted. The removal of sanctions on Moscow’s terms would be a major diplomatic victory for Putin that would rally nationalist sentiments around his government for years to come.

    Since the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Western policymakers have assumed that Russia’s military buildup is a harbinger of neo-imperial expansion. However, this perspective mischaracterizes Russian foreign policy, as it neglects the importance of domestic politics in Putin’s strategic calculus. The increasingly prohibitive costs of territorial expansion suggest that Russia’s military buildup is primarily aimed at rallying pro-Putin nationalist sentiments and distracting the public from Russia’s economic malaise. Barring a massive change in the dynamic of Russia-West relations, Russia’s fast-track military modernization will likely be an enduring feature of the CIS security landscape for years to come.

    Samuel Ramani is a DPhil candidate in International Relations at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. He is also a journalist who writes regularly for the Washington Post, Huffington Post and Diplomat Magazine amongst other publications. He can be followed on Facebook at Samuel Ramani and on Twitter at samramani2.

    #6308

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-us-tensions-nuclear-war-dangerous-threshold-soviet-leader-mikhail-gorbachev-cold-war-a7356941.html

    Russia and US tensions have left world on ‘dangerous threshold’, warns former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
    ‘Stopping the dialogue has been the biggest mistake’

    Gabriel Samuels
    @gabs_samuels
    Wednesday 12 October 2016

    Tense relations between Russia and the US have left the world on a “dangerous threshold” and the threat of the use of nuclear weapons remains strong, according to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

    Mr Gorbachev said “dialogue should be resumed” between countries, after a sustained period of high tension over the Syrian conflict and Russia’s intentions in the Baltic states.

    “I think the world has approached a dangerous threshold. I would prefer not to suggest any particular schemes, but I want to say: we need to stop,” he told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
    Read more

    Fierce air strikes resumes in Aleppo as UK parliament condemns Russia’s actions in Syria
    Russia’s top propagandist says US behaviour could have ‘nuclear’ implications
    Russia tensions with US ‘more dangerous’ than during the Cold War
    Russia says US actions threaten its national security

    “Stopping the dialogue has been the biggest mistake. Now we must return to the main priorities, such as nuclear disarmament, fighting terrorism and prevention of global environmental disasters. Compared to these challenges everything else is a second priority.”

    Mounting tensions between the US and Russia have led to a global political situation which is “more dangerous” than the Cold War, German foreign minister Frank-Walker Steinmeir said recently.

    On October 3, the US suspended their dialogue with Russia on bringing an end to the war in Syria, a move which seemed to deepen the tensions between the two nations.

    The US government then accused Moscow of war crimes following the bombardment of the city of Aleppo, sending diplomatic relations to a new low.

    In May, a former senior Nato general warned the alliance risked nuclear war with Russia “within a year” if actions were not taken to protect the Baltic states from invasion.

    Mr Gorbachev said the idea of a nuclear-free world is “not a utopia, but rather an imperative necessity”, in spite of the associated difficulties. The concept could only be achieved, he argued, through “demilitarisation of politics and international relations”.

    In early October, the Russian government launched a nationwide civil defence training exercise involving 40 million civilians, to ensure the country is properly prepared in the event of a nuclear, chemical and biological attack from the West.

    Mr Gorbachev ruled the Soviet Union from 1985 until it broke up in 1991. He is credited with ending the Cold War and building the architecture of nuclear arms control in a series of summits with US president Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik.

    #6309

    MILITARY SECURITY: Important Speech by Medwedew on Russian strategic policy

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJ8plGT06RE

    2011:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IYlqLrAixM

    2013:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTgXyl_Pns4

    2016: Putin

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    #6402

    Elisa Hörter
    Participant
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